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The Fix Is In: The NHL Shoots Itself In The Foot Again

Enforcer John Scott deserves to be an NHL All-Star despite the league stepping all over itself to keep the fans choice out of the game. On Friday, the Arizona Coyotes traded Scott to the Montreal Canadiens who didn’t even want him and immediately sent him off to St. John’s of the AHL for the rest of the season. Thus making the leading vote-getter and Pacific Division captain ineligible for the All-Star classic, according to the NHL.
The NHL was so frightened that John Scott would be an All-Star that they conspired to underhandedly arrange a nonsensical trade that made him ineligible for one of their marquee events.

jscotttshirtThe nine-year veteran Scott, with full knowledge of what the fans were really doing, grabbed hold of the opportunity and had t-shirts made that celebrated his being voted in as an All-Star and arranged for his family, including his eight months pregnant wife, to attend the event in Nashville. “My family was like ‘You have to go. It’s going to be so cool. They’re excited for it, probably more excited than I am. It’ll be one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences,” said Scott.

Economically, this was no joke to Scott.

All players on the victorious All-Star team will receive $90,000, a sizable amount for a player of Scott’s ilk who earns a salary of $575,000 per season.

As an All-Star, it is almost certain that Scott would have earned other lucrative forms of income, such as sponsorship’s, as businesses would have certainly jumped at the chance to get behind a cult hero with a huge following.

Scott is 33 years old and has been exported to a team that has no use for his services. Not to mention, that this quite possibly will end his career and his income stream.

The trade was obviously arranged by Gary Bettman and his cronies specifically to keep Scott out of the All-Star game. Scott had already been asked by the league to bow out as an All-Star captain and attend the game as if he were an injured player, meeting with reporters and attending all off-ice events. Of course Scott refused this “deal” stating that he wanted to participate fully.

“I can tell you that the Montreal Canadiens had no interest whatsoever in getting John Scott in this trade. The Arizona Coyotes wanted him to be included. You can draw your own conclusions from that. A lot of people have conspiracy theories. Whatever the case may be, but it was Arizona who wanted him in this trade, not the Montreal Canadiens,” stated TSN’s Bob McKenzie.

This isn’t the first time the NHL openly threw its integrity out of the window. In 2007, there was the highly successful “Vote For Rory” campaign to get minor-leaguer Rory Fitzpatrick on an All-Star team, which was stopped by the league under suspicious circumstances at the eleventh hour.

The Globe and Mail’s James Mirtle tells us. “Other undeserving candidates such as Mike Komisarek (in 2009) and Zemgus Girgensons (2015) were voted in. There were also campaigns in other years, such as 2012 in Ottawa, when fans of rival teams attempted to vote in hated former players as a “gift” to the home crowd.”

Mirtle also points out that the bungling NHL set themselves up for this, “Scott wasn’t the only oddball getting votes this year. Rob Scuderi, Zac Rinaldo, David Clarkson and others were climbing the rankings at various points. None of them should have ever been on an all-star ballot presented to fans to pick from.”

After these events, the only real change the NHL made to the voting system was lowering the number of all-stars voted in by fans from 12 starters to four captains.

Proof of a conspiracy in this case was the rather quick and senseless trade of Scott to a different conference by the Coyotes. Scott was immediately interred in the minors. Within hours of the trade, Coyotes GM Don Maloney stated that he expected the NHL to add another Coyote player (Oliver Ekman-Larsson or Max Domi) to take Scott’s place on the All-Star team. The timing and certainty of Maloney’s announcement was far too perfect.

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With this information and proof of economic losses incurred by Scott, the NHLPA should investigate fully towards the end of filing a grievance. The trade itself is not a reason to exclude Scott from the game whether or not collusion and conspiracy was involved.

Precedence has been set. Defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh was traded by the Florida Panthers to the Anaheim Mighty Ducks in 2003. Despite changing conferences, Ozolinsh played for the Eastern Conference squad and earned his share of the award money. Bernie Nicholls did the same in 1990.

The overriding fact is that John Scott was voted in by the fans using the system that the NHL established. Of course the fans stuffed the ballot box specifically to see the hulking enforcer skate in a 3-on-3 tournament with much speedier and well suited players, but that is 100% the NHL’s fault for allowing the online fan vote.

Why should Scott suffer because of the short-sighted, bumbling NHL? Scott literally battled his way into the NHL and stood up for his teammates every night. Despite having to use his fists, he did his job because he loves hockey.

As former Tampa Bay Lightning Stanley Cup champion agitator Chris Dingman put it on Facebook:

“John Scott; enjoy the all star game! Enjoy it for every player that got selected and decided they were tired, sore, or were just looking for a excuse not to go. Enjoy it, and remember every time you had to fight when you were hurt, sick, fought already that game or the game before, and let your personality show! And if anyone asks if you deserve to be there, show them your hands, and say “You bet!”

Big John Scott deserves to be treated better. The NHL fans deserve to have their voices listened to.

The NHL is again sending the wrong message, loud and clear: Our fans and our players are to be only conditionally respected.

(Photos/Getty Images)

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W.B. Philp

About W.B. Philp

W.B. Philp is the founder, owner and Editor in Chief of LightningShout. He is a longtime sportswriter. A grandfather, father, husband, Melrose hater, instigator, agitator and vindicator.

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